There is a photo on Chris Weidman’s refrigerator of his next opponent, Vitor Belfort. On it, he wrote a note promising himself that he would remain the UFC middleweight champion after the fight at UFC 187 Saturday in Las Vegas. It also includes a few reminders, the first is to eat healthy, the second says “No excuses.”
The part about eating healthy isn’t that hard. At least that’s what Weidman says, which is pretty impressive considering his eating habits early in his career.
“I never really ate greens,” Weidman said. “What I always did do was I always ate peanut butter and honey and I ate it all day. There’s not much nutritional value in that. I just love peanut butter and I love honey so I just put them together.”
Peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and honey. Peanut butter and bananas. Peanut butter straight up on a spoon.
This comes from a guy that was a Division I all-American wrestler in college, the same guy that became famous after scoring two wins off of mixed martial arts legend Anderson Silva in 2013. But for years, Weidman’s eating habits were more like that of a kid who raided the pantry when his parents weren’t home instead of like a professional fighting champion. Fighting at 185 pounds, Weidman said he would sometimes balloon to 230 pounds between training camps.
Weidman gave a behind-the-scenes look at this training regimen in a series of videos debuted on The Players' Tribune on Tuesday and will continue throughout the week.
“I would eat the pizza and bagels,” he said. “I would go to town on Italian food. I would just be out of shape then by the time training camp comes I would have to get fully in-shape and become an athlete again.”
Weidman started to think more about his diet two years ago, around the time of his bouts with Silva. But before this camp, he began working with nutritionist and CEO of Perfecting Athletes, Michelle Ingles, to get on a comprehensive eating program and would help fuel his muscles better and recover faster.
“Most professional athletes feel like they can eat whatever they want because they train all the time,” said Ingles, who has worked with an long line of pro fighters including undefeated world light-weight boxing champion Terrance Crawford.
Now Weidman’s diet consists of a lot more meat and vegetables. The peanut butter has been replaced with almond butter and the honey with Ezekiel bread. There aren’t many other restrictions though, diary, for example is still on the menu.
“When I have coffee I can have regular milk not skim milk,” Weidman said. “They don’t’ want anything low-fat. Non-fat is like, not allowed.”
Ingles reminded that healthy fats are needed to help muscles recover and replenish energy levels and absorb essential vitamins. Weidman said makes the switch to a healthier diet wasn’t difficult. Simply another part of training. And Weidman knows all about humbling himself for his own good.
“I get humbled every day when I come home and my wife puts me in my place,” he joked before addressing the injuries – first a broken hand and then a fractured rib — that drew the Belfort bout out for a year, saying the time helped taught him to remain focused. Now he’s just ready to get back in the Octagon.
“I’m excited to get back in there and put on a dominating performance,” he said. “With all do respect to Vitor, I just won’t be happy without a finish.”
Nutrition Tips From Michelle Ingles
Green Means Go: If it’s a green and a vegetable you can have it in an unlimited amount. Green smoothie, edamame – it doesn’t have to be a boring salad. There’s easy ways to get through vegetables.
Electrolyte water: Keep away from sugary energy and recovery drinks. Instead, after a work out pour yourself some water and some honey and sea salt. If you’re only drinking water, you’ll never replace the electrolytes you lost while sweating and never be fully hydrated.
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